Let’s see if this sounds familiar to any of you moms…
Last year I was at the airport, flying solo with my little ones (crazy, I know). I was trying to get to the rental car place while carrying the diaper bag, a kiddo backpack, a suitcase so big I could probably fit inside, two carseats, two children, a pacifier that somehow came unclipped, and remnants of a variety of kid snacks. “Can I carry something for you?” a nice woman asked as I waddled to the car. “Oh no, I’m good, thanks! I’ve got it!” I said. Seriously?! Why can’t I accept help when I clearly need it?!
And sure, this is a funny example. But things aren’t so funny right now for a lot of moms.
A few months ago my toddler and I started making lasagnas for moms who were struggling as a result of the pandemic. We’ve seen everything here in Boston — moms who have lost their jobs or their homes, moms who have lost their childcare and are feeling stressed, pregnant moms and moms of immunocompromised kids who are scared to go grocery shopping. There are moms facing very real challenges right now, and many of them are having to ask for help for the first time ever.
Turns out, that’s really hard. I can’t count the number of messages I’ve gotten that start with “I’m embarrassed to be asking…” or “It’s really hard for me to message you…” Which gets me wondering…
Mamas, why is it so hard for us to ask each other for help?
Is it pride? Is it because we’re worried we’ll be judged? Is it because we’re ashamed we can’t do it alone? For me, I think it’s a little bit of each. But right now, with so many moms struggling for reasons that are not their fault at all, I want to share what’s been helpful for me to get comfortable saying yes to help. Now when someone offers, I remind myself of three things.
When I’m able to help someone else, it’s a gift.
There is no greater feeling than bringing another mom a homecooked meal when she’s struggling. It makes me feel happy, fulfilled, and tingly, like I’m a part of something greater. And every single mom who is making and delivering meals alongside me feels the same, from Quincy to Newton to Newburyport. So, when someone offers me help, I remind myself that it’s an equal exchange — that I’m also giving them something in that moment that I say yes.
When I offer help, it’s genuine.
I think I’m often apprehensive to accept help because I don’t want to inconvenience someone else. What if they’re only offering to be nice? Well, when I offer it’s not just to be nice, it’s because I truly want to help. If I can remember this in the moment someone offers their help to me, it makes it a whole lot easier to say yes.
I believe in karma.
Have you ever done something nice for someone else? Consider it the universe’s way of bringing that back around to you. Maybe you were a shoulder to cry on, maybe you returned someone’s credit card who lost it, maybe once upon a time you offered to help a mom at the airport trying to carry a diaper bag, a suitcase, two carseats, two children, and assorted snack remnants. Whatever it is, now it’s your turn to let someone help you.
Maybe if we moms all get better at accepting help, it will make it feel more normal to ask for help. And maybe if it feels more normal to ask for help, we’ll be encouraged to keep offering help to each other, again and again. Could you imagine what that would do for our communities? So: I’m going to do my community (and myself!) a favor, and say yes to help.
About Our Guest Writer
Rhiannon Menn is a mama, chef, and adventurer. She loves decaf coffee, traveling, and super fuzzy sweaters. After the birth of her second child she had an epiphany: When she took good care of herself, she was way better at taking care of those around her. Good to Mama was born. As she writes to change the narrative about what it means to be a mom, she also shares funny stories, recipes, and pictures of her two favorite toddlers. In April she founded Lasagna Love to help moms impacted by the pandemic. You can find her on Instagram at @rhiannonmenn.